This is a follow up story for Easy Song. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
We provide brokerage services regarding all facets of music rights, licensing, and permissions. Easy Song has a client base of 122,000 users and we help clear music composition and master sound recording rights for video synchronization licensing, film, stage, print, advertising, theatrical use, clearing cover songs for audio release, and more.
Our team works with over 8,000 music publishers and record labels where we help bridge the gap between any 3rd party user and the rights holders who administer these copyrights.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
We are grateful to have experienced 30% top-line growth this year, regardless of the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. The independent music community, filmmakers, marketing agencies, production companies, record labels, schools, churches, community ensembles, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations have resoundingly pushed out content like never before since the initial Covid lockdown. The need for cover song licensing, and all types of music clearances has indeed spiked to a large extent.
Many clients have made it a standard and continuous practice in producing and releasing live virtual productions online to continue to engage their audience and stay relevant even in the midst of zero live in-person shows. Music publishers and record labels have been inundated with large volume spikes for 3rd-party-use requests such as this, of course resulting in stronger revenue growth, however, it has presented issues for the average consumer to contact them directly where artists experience slow customer service turnaround or no response whatsoever due to under-staffed licensing departments.
This pain point presented a fantastic opportunity to further grow our user base where our company helped step in to expedite and execute these deals with a much higher success rate vs. the client trying to do this themselves. Before this time, we had already established strong connections with all video synchronization licensing departments with these major publishers in the first place, thus putting ourselves in a position to succeed where there is little help, education, or competition within this space. ESL gained many lifetime clients during the pandemic and our reputation has spread through many facets of our industry.
This type of clearance work revolves within our "Custom Licensing" service department where we have many strong, seasoned agents who are extremely knowledgeable and can help put these artists in the best position to receive approvals at the most affordable rates possible. We are very proud of our team of wonderful "Music Navy Seals"; they not only kept up amazing customer service but closed more deals within this past fiscal year than any other year in the history of our company. Our agents make this company run, regardless of the circumstances of the outside world.
Since our last update, we have added four new hires bringing us to twelve full-time employees, up from seven this time last year. Training has been intensive and ongoing. The new hires have learned fast and have become valuable contributors to the team. We are excited to witness the realization of the vast potential we see in these new additions.
Coming this fall, 2021, we will be offering new services for owners of original compositions and sound recordings, including copyright registration; publishing administration; licensing out for ads and film; and distribution services. We are hard at work developing these services that we believe will add significant value for our existing customers and for all creators who need help tackling these challenging aspects of music ownership and monetization.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
One of the biggest lessons was the constant need to change and adapt COVID protocols with our employees. This involved how we administer work, time off, maintaining regular work hours, and making sure all employees are productive at the same level when working from home. We learned that it is important to write down any performance issues or other grievances that come up and discuss them one-on-one to set proper expectations and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Transparency equals trust, coupled with an open/flexible mindset to accept all ideas. If you want to improve, get out of your own head and go out and find out more.
We were reminded of the importance of ongoing training and regular communication with our team. We thought we were good at these things, but the fast pace of business carried us away, and sometimes these important “sharpening the axe” activities were sidelined. A renewed focus has already made a major positive impact.
We spent a lot of money on marketing for a Kickstarter campaign for Giddy, which wasn’t successful. One positive takeaway was that we examined why, and that led us to the Lean Startup methodology, an approach of spending small when testing new ideas. We think this will be helpful going forward since entrepreneurship is a core value of our company. We are always testing new ideas. By “keeping the stitches small”, we can test more ideas faster, and let our customers tell us what is helpful for them.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Coming this fall, 2021, we are very excited to launch our new website and brand refresh. We are dropping the “Licensing” and will simply be called "Easy Song". The new name more accurately reflects a new broader scope of service offerings. In addition to serving existing copyright clearance needs, we will begin offering publishing administration services to clients who write and produce 100% original compositions (songs) and sound recordings. This new service will be a breakthrough for our company to serve all independent artists to help them register their music with the US Copyright Office and to publish their songs within all Performing Rights Organizations throughout the world (such as ASCAP and BMI here in the US).
At the same time, these artists will have strong representation to help administer, broker, and execute deals on their behalf when special opportunities come their way, such as companies wanting to use their music in films, advertisements, video sync used for internet streaming, and cover song releases, for example. For the average indie artist to receive this type of proper attention and care for their music to make sure their work is well-represented and strongly compensated with fair market value is sadly a rarity in today's industry and we are chomping at the bit to change the independent music industry for good. Our clients have been screaming for this service for the past 7 years and we are proud to be able to deliver this to them finally!
We are currently developing a new music streaming service, unlike anything you’ve ever seen. We call it Giddy. Giddy puts your music playlist on a clock face so you see what plays when. It also lets you listen together with friends in real-time, and interact and share music in new ways. Giddy pays the artists that create music double what they make from other streaming platforms. So you can feel good as you listen, knowing your favorite artists are earning a fair, livable wage. We have a patent application pending and we are working with an outside software development team at MentorMate to produce the MVP app. The app is scheduled for release on Android and iOS in early 2022.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
- The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- Titan by Ron Chernow (Biography of John D. Rockefeller)
- The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
- Super Rich by Russell Simmons and Chris Morrow
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Don't stop finding, identifying, and analyzing your competition and what they do differently than your business. Do not be intimidated, but take an active scientific-like mindset in finding out more about their models, the customer experience, and what plans they may be pursuing.
Don't stop thinking about your clients' needs. Continue finding pain points, common goals, and ancillary products/services your clients would love to experience or buy. Take the time to talk to more of these existing clients and new window shoppers that come to the table. Survey and gather information from all perspectives and empower them to help you run a better business. Transparency equals trust, coupled with an open/flexible mindset to accept all ideas. If you want to improve, get out of your own head and go out and find out more.
Never rest on your laurels; pretend you are an NFL player. Adapt the perspective that there is always someone younger, hungrier, stronger, or more experienced who wants to take your job, your business, and your client base. "Yesterday's" and "before's" are all just past success stories, which is nice but doesn't propel the same future results compared to you proactively creating new momentum with new revenue streams, new partners, new ideas, and new systems to constantly improve your business. Successful companies never stop moving.
Read, or better yet, listen to audiobooks to learn from/about the greatest people to positively impact humanity. Develop yourself first; then you can lead by example. Words mean nothing; watch actions. Read The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, then live it. Read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and believe and live it.
Keep going. Simple advice from Nike founder Phil Knight in his book Shoe Dog. Stick to your dream. Too much bouncing around, flash-in-the-pan showiness, impatience, diminishes greatness.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes! This summer we would like to find a marketing specialist. We also will be looking for additional customer service agents to help us launch our new publishing administration and copywriting services, as well as our Custom Licensing and Cover Song Clearance divisions.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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